Testing time for NSW students | Poll

Former Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli
Former Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli

TWO out of three NSW year 9 students will not receive their HSC in 2020 without undergoing additional testing.

Under new minimum standards, students are required to achieve a result of band eight or above in reading, writing and numeracy.

As Wagga parents voiced their opposition to the move on The Daily Advertiser’s Facebook page, former education minister Adrian Piccoli has defended the change he introduced.

Data from the NSW Department of Education has showed that just 32 per cent – or 28,403 students – achieved the necessary band eight or higher result.

While 68 per cent  –  or 61,01 students – received at least one required result, the figure dropped to 52 per cent – or 46,481 students with at least two.

Year 9 students who did not meet the minimum standard will now have to undergo additional testing.

The state government – and Mr Piccoli –  announced in 2016 that students would be required to achieve a band eight standard in the year 9 NAPLAN reading, writing and maths to guarantee eligibility for the HSC. ATAR scores, used for university admission, are unaffected.

Mr Piccoli said, at the time, that the measure would ensure students awarded the HSC met minimum literacy and numeracy standards.

On Monday, Mr Piccoli reiterated his 2016 statements that “we do have an issue in NSW that our results aren't as good as they should be”.

He agreed there was now added expectation on year 9 students, where previously there had been “very little academic pressure”.

“If you want to see better results, you do have to work harder,” he said.

However, Mr Piccoli may find little support from parents, whose comments on Facebook were largely critical of both the NAPLAN testing process and the stress and anxiety it placed on children.

“The amount of pressure on our children is high and doing this to them increases it even more. No wonder we have so many mental health issues with our children and more suicides,” wrote one poster.

President of NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, Chris Presland, was highly critical of any link between NAPLAN results and a student’s eligibility for the HSC.

Mr Presland said linking the results of year 9 NAPLAN results – a diagnostic tool – with whether or not a student would receive their HSC “is on the surface, quite bizarre”.

“It is a nonsense to be using something like NAPLAN as part of the criteria for the HSC,” he said.

“The two are not linked. From an educational perspective, there is no connection between the two, so they have had to create one artificially with no educational basis.”

Mr Piccoli believes the role of the NAPLAN results remain primarily a “diagnostic” one, with schools able to use the individual results of students.